Use Grounding Techniques When Dissociating

January 18, 2015 Sherry Polley

Use these helpful grounding techniques when dissociating, and remember, dissociation can happen to anyone, not just those with dissociative identity disorder.

Dissociation is a common phenomenon. Most people will experience dissociation at some point in their lives. It becomes a disorder, like in dissociative identity disorder (DID), when it is so frequent or severe that it interrupts a person's daily life. One common technique used for dissociation is called grounding. It is a technique that helps a person regain connection with his or her physical body. This may often end the dissociation, or will at least make it more bearable.

What Does It Feels Like to Dissociate?

I began dissociating when I was around five years old. For me, it is a symptom of DID but it can happen for many reasons. I recognized it by the time I was eight years old, though I didn't know that it had a name. All I knew was that I “felt funny” sometimes. When I dissociate, the world around me becomes extremely vivid and colorful, as though I am in a dream. My motor skills are slowed way down and forming sentences can be difficult. Everything around me seems to slow way down. I lose touch with my body and my physical surroundings.

How Can I Use Grounding Techniques When I Dissociate?

Dissociation can happen to anyone, not just those with dissociative identity disorder. Use these helpful grounding techniques when dissociating.

When a person dissociates, he or she may practice the technique of grounding. There are many different ways to practice grounding. The main idea is to do something that brings a person back in touch with his or her body.

  1. Use physical sensations. Try touching the table, feeling the grass, or smelling a flower. Doing activities that enhance your physical sensations will help you to come back to a solid state. It has helped me to wash my face with water, or hold a couple of ice cubes.
  2. Speak truths out loud. It has been helpful for me to try to speak the truth out loud. This can be things like, “I am 31 years old,” or “I live in Indianapolis.” This will help to make sense of the reality that the person lives in, as we can often get confused about our lives when we dissociate.
  3. Try laughter. This is a big one. If you're alone, try turning on some comedy on YouTube. If you are with a trusted friend, try asking them to make you laugh. Better yet, tell your loved ones ahead of time that laughter helps when you dissociate. It will help you to feel your internal body, it will lighten the seriousness of the situation, and it may bring you out of dissociation.

Overall, be patient with yourself. Grounding techniques take practice and may feel unusual in the initial moments. Remember that dissociation is not usually dangerous and that it will pass.

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APA Reference
Polley, S. (2015, January 18). Use Grounding Techniques When Dissociating, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 23 from

Author: Sherry Polley

September, 4 2016 at 10:05 pm

Thank you

January, 19 2015 at 4:57 pm

Good stuff, Sherry!! I'll be following your posts to help me understand more about d.i.d. :)

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Sherry Polley
January, 20 2015 at 11:23 am

Thanks Abbie! I hope I can offer you some good insight :-)

January, 19 2015 at 1:56 pm

Very informative and well written!!

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Sherry Polley
January, 19 2015 at 4:13 pm

Thank you!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Kelly Kwon
October, 27 2018 at 2:44 am

Hi Sherry,
Reading this was very helpful.
I have a question, though, how do you know if/when you have dissociated?
I'm in kind of a weird place bc I realize that I do have DID but have no idea what's going on(?) How do you know when switches occur? Does losing time feel like anything?
As a child, I remember a not pleasant head tight feeling(?) but I don't know what happened on either side of that feeling.
I guess it has taken a while to realize that I have DID, it's the most logical explanation for what I can't make sense of.
I look forward to a reply.
Thank you.

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